I realise that starting the whole Maison Martin Margiela HQ experience with a video was a bit of a cop-out. It's true that without a narrative, it's basically a bunch of clips stringed together alongside a catchy tune (seriously love how Prins Thomas ever so slightly tweaked that track…). So I had to come back and waffle, put captions against images and basically draw this out more than necessary. Feel free to just skip to the video if of course a short video round-up is all you can digest.
So yaddah yaddah yaddah, we know the score… brands connecting with bloggers… blah blah blah. Great great great. It seems like if I open up Fashionologie and found out a blogger has become a creative director of an ailing French house, I somehow wouldn't be that shocked. That's jaded ol' me talking. That Maison Martin Margiela decided to invite a group of bloggers for a presentation on their perfume isn't the shocker that it would have been, say three years ago, especially given that this is probably a shrewd move on the part of Diesel Group (who owns MMM). Still, I wasn't about to go about differentiating between PDM (Pre-Departure-of-Margiela) and the present MMM and dismiss this as 'another blogger trip'. I was stupidly giddy about being in the Margiela HQ, surrounded by white washed walls, plenty of calico and the white lab-coated MMM team. Oh yes, just suck me in, present-day system of communications…
And so the presentation of MMM's Line 3, (its thirteenth), their perfume line started off by us bloggers (Cafe Mode, Les Mads, Coute que Coute and Notcot
were the ones I knew… I didn't get a chance to speak to everyone
there alas) being led into a room where ten videos had been set up
aided by a telephone to provide sound. They were short films
commissioned to introduce people to the world of Margiela including
snippets of everything from his first show in 1989 to the 20th
Anniversary show as well as showing flicks through the recent retrospective book published by Rizzoli.
I've heard many anecdotes of the first Margiela show from third parties
but have never seen the show so it was a real treat to cop a bit of
that video footage (see vid in previous post).
Introductions done, it was time to move on to the main point of the event. A black and white old film countdown was the cue to the silver curtains being raised to reveal…
The title comes as no surprise. That it hasn't already been used however was a bit surprising. It sounds slightly dismissive to say that all the packaging elements of the perfume were not surprising but only because there are certain expectations and aesthetics attached to a Margiela-branded product and it would have been mighty odd if the curtains came up and there was a pink flowery box with a heart-shaped bottle (though even then, I'd probably think that was some kind of subversive trick).
We were given scented quill-type pens, which I started using to scribble notes furiously. Not because I'm ever going to refer to those notes again. I just love scribbling furiously with a quill.
The bottle and packaging were designed in collaboration with Fabien Baron and it was inspired by 19th century glass stoppered bottles, dipped in the white paint that has over the years touched many a MMM-related surface. On the bottle, it's a cold and smooth surface that feels strangely comforting. The most interesting bit about the bottle though is the cotton thread which is tied on by hand and correlates to the white thread of those four famous white stitches that marks a Margiela piece of clothing out.
You can just about pick out my leopard print body in the mirrored walls of MMM's presentation room…
Now here comes the science… we were finally led into the final presentation room where the formula of the scent was explained. Which leads me to trying to terribly describing what the heck 'Untitled' smells like. My olfactory descriptive terms are not quite extensive enough to make me sound like I know what I'm doing in the world of scent. Afterall my knowledge of notes etc come from reading Patrick Suskind's Perfume one too many times.
From the colour though, without even smelling it, the message is 'green'. It was intentionally made to evoke the green fragrances that were popular in the 70s. That's 'green', not to be mistaken with 'floral' which this perfume definitely is NOT. The principal element is 'Galbanum' which apparently is quite a rare raw material which could explain why there was a certain woodiness in the perfume that I haven't really experienced before. Margiela used 'green' apparently as a starting point because of its natural qualities and simplicity. That said, a spray of the stuff doesn't really propel me into a damp woodland or meadow either. It most definitely smells 'green' but the combination of notes/ingredients makes something that is simultaneously natural and unnatural.
I've personally always been on a quest for scents that don't smell like 'air freshener', taking a cue from India Knight's perfume philosophy. My favourite scents currently are Fantastic Man by Byredo, Wode by Boudicca and the faithful Escentric Molecules Molecule 01. I can safely add Untitled to that list and in a way, I kind of expected to. If it wasn't complex, slightly odd and slightly too-heady-smelling at first, I'd be worried that they had gotten the wrong batch of scent into the bottle. That it fit that bill, I'd say it was worth taking three years to develop the scent.
These are some behind the scenes images from the forthcoming ad campaign for the perfume which won't be rampantly printed in all mags of course…
The final bonus ending to the day was a walk around through Maison Martin Margiela's showroom where all the press samples are kept as well as being played out by a brass band in the courtyard.
It could have been a last minute tidying up job but the showroom was immaculately well-organised. Perhaps it's down to this built-in Outillage box where someone is constantly manning the sending and receiving of MMM pieces.
It was a chance for me to snoop around the Artisinal collection especially which I don't often see in stores. It was slightly painful going through racks and racks of all the other lines which I know, without even looking at each garment that they would somehow fit into one's wardrobe seamlessly making impact without being overtly loud. Didn't want to end up crying in front of people so I just snapped the very very ornate pieces that are in essence mostly showpieces…
… like these kimono robes made out of what looks like oversized chenille ropes…
…or this bolero made out of fans
…still, couldn't help looking at the physically-obtainable-yet-fiscally-unobtainable pieces like this chain embroidered leather jacket or mirrored sandals…
…or this jacket made of calico and bias binding…